Otis Clay - The Best Of Otis Clay: The Hi Records Years

Published Wednesday 15th June 2016
Otis Clay - The Best Of Otis Clay: The Hi Records Years
Otis Clay - The Best Of Otis Clay: The Hi Records Years

RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 160777-23805

Reviewed by Tony Cummings

The passing (on 8th January 2016) of Otis Clay went without comment in Cross Rhythms (apologies - we'll be publishing and appreciation/career retrospective soon). If you're an aficionado of Southern soul you'll know that Otis - one time member of gospel groups like The Famous Blue Jay Singers and The Holy Wonders - never hit the big time like Wilson Pickett, James Carr and that other Otis. But Mr Clay did make many prime examples of timeless Southern soul and fully deserved the attention he belatedly received from white blues and soul enthusiasts. Southern soul works best when the churchy singer is backed by rootsy horns-and-Hammond bands and the sides here, recorded for Cotillion and Hi Records between 1968 and 1975, have some fine accompaniments. Also important are songs, usually about lost love, that can bring out all the expressive passion and vocal dynamics in which soul singers abound. There are some great songs here. "I Can Take It" is a tremendous, tear-drenched melancholic opener while the dead slow "I Love You, I Need You" is deep, deep soul although believers may flinch as Otis pours out his devotion to the other woman. It's on slow songs that Otis' declamatory rasp works best though his Redding-esque "Trying To Live My Life Without You" (making 24 in the R&B charts in 1972) is infinitely preferable to the Bob Seger cover version which made the US top 10 nine years later. Talking of covers, Clay's version of Sir Douglas Quintet's "She's About A Mover" pales beside the hypnotic, Tex Mex original. No, it's when Clay's voice could emote on originals like "Holding On To A Dying Love" or "I've Got To Find A Way (To Get You Back)" that the Chicago soul man is at his best.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

Interested in reviewing music? Find out more here.

Be the first to comment on this article

We welcome your opinions but libellous and abusive comments are not allowed.

We are committed to protecting your privacy. By clicking 'Send comment' you consent to Cross Rhythms storing and processing your personal data. For more information about how we care for your data please see our privacy policy.